Election 2020: Big losers include Labour’s Joan Burton
Ross bows out, as Doherty eliminated and Zappone at risk of losing seat
Joan Burton, left, the first female leader of the Labour party, bows out of electoral politics after a career of almost 30 years. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Every general election produces its high-profile casualties and election 2020 is no exception.
Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and former tánaiste Joan Burton of Labour were eliminated on Sunday night and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone looked set to be excluded. Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger lost her seat in Dublin West.
Ms Burton, the first female leader of the Labour party, bows out of electoral politics after a career of almost 30 years, with a five-year absence from the Dáil when she lost her seat in 1997.
A once-dominant force in Irish politics, she faced a struggle in her 2016 re-election but lost her seat on the fifth count when her constituency colleague Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was elected. Ms Burton did not appear at the Dublin West count. Her party’s defence of water charges is seen as a lingering factor that may have contributed to her political demise.
Her Limerick City colleague former minister for housing Jan O’Sullivan looked in great difficulty, with only a very slight hope of sufficient transfer help.
Sinn Féin surge
Meanwhile, early on Sunday night, Ms Doherty was fourth in the three-seater constituency Meath East, having secured just 9.97 per cent of the first-preference vote; on the sixth count, she was eliminated.
With the Sinn Féin surge, Ms Doherty faced an uphill battle in the Ashbourne area she shares with the party’s Darren O’Rourke, who lost out in 2016.
Ms Zappone showed up early at the Dublin South-West count centre. She was on 5.49 per cent of first preferences. In that constituency, Rise TD Paul Murphy appeared in difficulty earlier, but became confident he would get sufficient transfers to be elected as the day progressed.
Speaking early on Sunday, Independent Alliance Minister for Transport Shane Ross conceded in Dublin Rathdown: “The position is I certainly will not be elected, I’m not eliminated now but I think the gap between me and the other candidates is too far, is too wide for me to catch up at this stage.”
Mr Ross said he was not surprised at his impending defeat. “I was hoping to be elected but Dublin Rathdown punishes its poll-toppers frequently with a consistency which is quite alarming, and it’s nearly always to cut down to size those who topped the poll the time before.
“It’s a very volatile constituency and I was taking nothing for granted in this and I’m not totally surprised. Of course, I’m disappointed, I very much would have liked to serve in the next Dáil, but that’s politics and I want to congratulate those who are successful in Rathdown and congratulate those who are calling for change.”
He said he hoped “they can introduce the changes which they have promised and I’m sure they’ll do their best”.
Mr Ross was eliminated on the fifth count.
Fine Gael’s Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock admitted he looked like another high-profile casualty. It was always going to be a challenge for the Ballymun native, who lost a major chunk of his constituency in boundary reshaping.
And, in a shock development, it also looked late on Sunday night like Roscommon-Galway might end up with no Fianna Fáil TD. The party’s Eugene Murphy seemed likely to lose his seat, and his opposition to the imposition of second candidate Orla Leyden may have proved correct, from his point of view.
In Dublin Bay South a battle was ongoing between Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell, with the Fianna Fáil man ahead for the fourth seat. Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is also likely to survive.
The outgoing Independent Alliance Minister of State Kevin “Boxer” Moran said on Sunday it would be a “miracle” if he did not lose his seat in Longford-Westmeath, with 11.94 per cent of first-preference votes.
One of Fianna Fáil’s most prominent TDs, Lisa Chambers, the Brexit spokeswoman, seemed on course to lose her Mayo seat.